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U.S. Refiners’ Contributions to Clean Air

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers reports that emissions from U.S. fuel manufacturers have decreased substantially over the last two decades, even as U.S. petroleum fuel production increased during the same time period.

These findings, combined with other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data showing continuous and significant reductions in all criteria pollutants economy-wide, raise further questions regarding EPA’s rationale for proposing new National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The study commissioned by AFPM and conducted by Sage Environmental Consulting, revealed a significant reduction in both criteria air pollutant emissions and hazardous air pollutants emissions during the period of investigation from 1990 to 2013.

The analysis also highlights that despite density and sulfur content of crude oil feedstocks increasing over 16 percent during the study period, the primary CAP emissions – sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds – fell by 91 percent, 67 percent and 69 percent, respectively. The total HAP emissions similarly declined by 66 percent.

“The numbers don’t lie. EPA’s data shows U.S. air quality continues to improve, despite arguments to the contrary, and domestic refiners have significantly contributed to that trend. The air is cleaner today than it ever has been and so are fuel manufacturing operations,” AFPM President Charles T. Drevna said.

EPA is in the process of finalizing new emissions control standards to reduce ground-level ozone from the current level of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb, a rulemaking that could reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by as much as $140 billion per year according to a recent report. The current standard was enacted in 2008, but the Agency did not finalize implementation regulations until February 2015.

“The refining industry’s demonstrated commitment to improving efficiencies and investing in technological advancements to process both heavier and lighter crude oils will guarantee further emissions reductions without overly burdensome new requirements,” Drevna said. “It is important to recognize that ozone-forming emissions will continue to decrease due to the 2008 ozone standard, the implementation of which did not even begin until earlier this year. Revisiting the standard now typifies the proverbial analogy about moving the goal posts. Policy makers need to look at these facts before approving little-to-no benefit regulations that will impose additional costs on domestic manufacturers.”

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